Acclaimed theater actor Rufino “Junix” Inocian Jr. was found dead in his London flat on Saturday. He was 64. The cause of his death is still unknown.
His ex-wife Luna Griño and son JC Inocian announced their loss on their Facebook accounts on Sunday.
“We are all so so broken hearted right now… Thank you all for your posts and messages…. My dad’s probably having a laugh about all of this in heaven,” JC posted.
Junix was born Rufino Duran Inocian Jr. in Iligan City on March 17, 1951. In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine in October 2014, Inocian talked about how as an only child, his father hoped he would one day run the family business–an umbrella enterprise that comprised trucking, lumber and a printing press, among others.
His father had in fact sent him to Manila to study Business and Commerce at De La Salle University, but as he enjoyed his freedom away from home, his grades plummeted, and Inocian was forced to enter at a school closer to Iligan City. He enrolled at Silliman University in Dumaguete City where he discovered his curiosity for the arts.
He eventually obtained a degree in Theater Arts and underwent further studies at the University of Michigan, where he completed a degree in acting in 1978.
On Philippine television, Inocian was best known as Kuya Mario in the children’s show Batibot. It was, however, with Repertory Philippines that he gained his theatrical expertise as part of the company for almost 11 years. He started off playing small roles such as a butler, to lead roles as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. He counted working in over 60 productions to The Sunday Times Magazine, before he broke into the international theater scene via Miss Saigon in 1989. Initially part of the chorus, Inocian eventually played the role of The Engineer, first portrayed by Jonathan Pryce, in the world famous musicale.
After Miss Saigon, Inocian stayed on in the West End and was cast as Old Deuteronomy in Cats at the New London Theater. From there, he went on to do various projects for stage and television, and in 2006, he won the Theatre Management Association Award for Best Performance in a Musical for Pacific Overtures at the Haymarket Theater.
Despite his success on the world stage, Inocian would still come home to the Philippines once in a while and join Repertory productions, whether lead or support, and actively lecture young Filipino actors. His reason for doing so as he said in the same interview was to give back to Philippine theater.
“Filipino actors perform with so much heart,” he said as he lamented the lack of support for local theater groups.
“It’s kind of sad that the government has never supported Philippine theater. Even though artists like Lea Salonga are constantly advertising the country to the rest of the world. I find it really sad that they don’t support the arts and they don’t have a properly funded performing arts school in the country,” Inocian stated.
He is survived by three children from his first marriage–June Rose, Jon Christian and Jon Michael–and a son Yñaqui by his second wife Annie, who passed away of cancer several years ago.
Authorities in London are still investigating the actor’s death. Meanwhile, reports say his remains will be cremated, and that a memorial service in Manila will soon be scheduled.